Founder of Chosun Theological Seminary -Belief of ‘Achieve a great end from a small beginning’
Dae-hyeon Kim was born in Yeongil, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and worked as an education activist. He graduated from Gwallip ui-hakgyo (Government Medical School) in 1901 and in the same year was appointed as chambong (assistant care taker, ninth rank) at the Sungryeongjeon hall located in Pyeongyang, North Korea. Afterwards, he made a contribution to education in the period of enlightenment, which came towards the end of the 19th century, while consecutively filling various positions such as council member of Heunghae-myeon, academic board member of Heunghae Public Primary School, and superintendent of Heunghae Myeongsin School. Having converted to Christianity, Mr. Kim moved to Seoul to attend the Seungdong Church and became an elder in 1923. When Pyeongyang Theological Seminary was closed down in 1938 due to anti-colonial resistance against Shinto shrine worship, he donated large amounts of funds to an establishment committee for Chosun Theological Seminary which aimed to educate pastors. The establishment of a divinity school was not then permitted, but as a private school it finally opened on April 19, 1940 after receiving accreditation from the governor of Gyeonggi-do. Mr. Kim took his post as the first dean of the school. When he founded and began supporting the school, some tried to dissuade him, criticizing that founding theological schools by Korean people could become an act of betrayal which ignored the past contributions and achievements of foreign missionaries who the established missionary schools to educate Koreans. Nevertheless, he had confidence that Chosun churches should take initiative in cultivating Korean ministries. Chosun Theological Seminary later became Theology University of Korea.
Tae-yeong Ham was (咸台永, October 22, 1872 ~ October 24, 1964) an independence activist, a politician as well as a pastor. After graduating from Beopgwan Yangseongso (Judicial Officer Training Center), he started his legal career as a prosecution probationer at the Capital Court of Justice. Mr. Ham wrote the petition calling for Korean independence sent to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, and participated in the March First Movement as one of 48 representatives of the Korean people. After Korea’s independence from Japan, he served as the third Vice-President of the Republic of Korea. His pen name was Son-gam and his ancestral seat was Gangneung. He was born in Musan, Hamgyeongbuk-do.
Gospel for Korea’s independence and national church foundation
Chang-geun Song originally came from Gyeongheung-gun, Hamgyeongbuk-do. He graduated from Union Pierson Memorial Bible Institute (now Pyeongtaek University) in Seoul, and in 1926 he graduated from the Theology Department of Aoyama -Gakuin University in Japan. He went to the U.S. and pursued his study of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey. At Princeton, he studied with Gyeong-jik Han and Jae-jun Kim, who later became two of the most influential figures in the history of the Korean church. Mr. Song received his master’s degree in theology from the Western Seminary, Pennsylvania in 1930 and his doctorate in theology from the University of Denver, Colorado in 1931. After coming back to Korea, he worked as a preacher at the Sanjeonghyeon Church in Pyeongyang, and in 1932 was ordained as a minister by the Presbyterian Church of Pyeongyang to become a leading pastor. However, his ‘new liberal theology’ produced friction with the church, thereby resulting in his virtual demotion in 1936 to a church in Busan, a sharp contrast from the large Sanjeonghyeon Church, one of the foremost representatives of the Presbyterian Church at the time. In Busan, he established Seongbin School and began to carry out social work including assisting the poor. After the fall of the Japanese empire in 1945, he participated in founding Chosun Theological Seminary (now Hanshin University) and was inaugurated as school president. In addition, Rev. Song promoted missionary activities by establishing the St. Paul Church, a predecessor of the Seoul Sungnam Church, near the Seoul Station. He was kidnapped to North Korea by retreating the Korean People’s Army in June 1950 during the Korea War. He died of a disease at Daedong-gun near Pyongyang around July 1951, according to the Research Institute for Internal and External Issues in the Korean Peninsula.
Religious conscience and academic freedom
Jae-jun Kim was born in 1901 in Gyeongheung-gun, Hamgyeongbuk-do, and converted to Protestantism during his adolescence. He learned the Four Books and Three Classics of China and other oriental classics from his father, a Confucian scholar, and studied theology at Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan and Princeton Theological Seminary in the U.S. Mr. Kim obtained his degree in Old Testament theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1933, he taught the Bible at Sungin Commercial High School in Pyeongyang. Later in 1940 when missionaries shut down Chosun Presbyterian Theological Seminary (so-called Pyeongyang Theological Seminary) on account of refusing to worship Japanese Shinto shrines, Jae-jun Kim was involved in founding a new missionary school, Chosun Theological Seminary. However, he came into conflict with the Presbyterian Church of Korea concerning the issue of whether or not criticism on the Bible should be accepted. He was under fire from theologians including Chang-geun Song and Gyeongjik Han for denying infallibility and inerrancy of the Scripture (the verbal inspiration) when the controversy over the translated one-volume Abingdon bible commentary took place. In 1953, when he was dismissed from his position of pastor, he broke away from the Presbyterian Church of Korea, establishing Chosun Theological Seminary and the new denomination, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, known as one of the most liberal churches along with the Anglican Church of Korea. The then-President Chung-hee Park, seizing power with a military coup, deceived the Korean people by breaking his vow to transfer power back to the people in 1969, which led him to participate in the democratic movement against the authoritarian military regime.
Independence movement and resistance against military dictatorship
Jun-ha Jang(張俊河, August 27, 1918 Uiju, Pyeonganbuk-do- August, 17, 1975) was a politician, government official, journalist, social activist, and magazine publisher in postcolonial Korea as well as an independence activist during the Japanese occupation. He was employed as an official within South Korea’s first independent government, the First Republic of South Korea, serving as a public enlightenment official at the Ministry of Education in 1950, and a section chief of the planning department, a general manager and an executive secretary at the Research Institute for Korean National Ideology in 1952. Around the moment, Jun-ha Jan launched a monthly magazine, Sasanggye. During the Second Republic of Jang Myeon administration, he served as a member of the Higher Education Council of the Ministry of Education, and the head of the planning department and the director of Guktogeonseoldan, a public work organization established to reeducate and provide employment for the unemployed. He initially supported the 5.16 military coup but later stood against the military rule, taking part in the Korea-Japan anti-treaty movement in the early 1960's and the campaigns against the deployment of Korean troops to Vietnam. He was imprisoned on charge of insulting President Chunghee Park; he drove the fact into a hot controversy that the president collaborated in Japan's colonial rule during the occupation, while going on the stump to bolster candidate Bo-seon Yoon in the 6th presidential election campaign. He worked as a member of the New Democracy Party followed by the Nationalist Party along with Bo-seon Yoon. In 1975, Jun-ha Jang mysteriously ended his life in a fall while climbing the Yaksabong peak in Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do.
Democratization and national unification on the Korean Peninsula
Ik-hwan Moon(文益煥, June 1, 1918 ~ January 18, 1994) was a South Korean Presbyterian minister. Pastor Moon, following Christianity in action, was also a pro-unification activist, social activist, engagement poet, and one of leading dissidents advocating democratization. Since he participated in the movement of unification and democratization based on a liberal Christian belief that Korea cannot truly become a democratic society without unification on the Korean peninsula, people regarded him as a faith-based social activist. Ik-hwan Moon also worked actively as a biblical scholar. For example, he took part in the translation on the Old Testament by a joint collaboration of the Protestant and Catholic churches, as a translator from the Protestant side along with Rev. Hyeonju Lee. He also wrote A People’s History of Hebrew (Sam-minsa Publishing House), which lucidly explains the Old Testament.
Suffering of Jesus outside of the gate and minjung theology in Korea
Byeong-mu Ahn was born in 1922 in Sinuiju, Pyeongannam-do and spent his adolescence in the Chien-tao region of Manchuria. He majored in sociology at Seoul National University and got his Th.D. from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He established the Korea Theological Study Institute in 1973, dedicating himself to theorizing minjung theology in Korea. The institute is presently still publishing a quarterly magazine, Shinhak Sasang (Theological Thoughts) and a variety of theological books, and is viewed as one of the most liberal Christian publishers. Dr. Ahn founded the Hyangrim Church of Presbyterian Church in Korea, along with twelve brothers including Hong Changeui, based on the following four founding spirits: living community, multilateral mission community, laity-oriented church, and independent church. His books include a Bible study book, History and Interpretation (Daehan Christian Publishing House, 1981), Jesus of Galilee, etc.
Education for social consciousness through dialogue and inter-religious dialogue
Won-yong Kang (姜元龍, October 30, 1917 Iwongun, Hamgyeongnam-do ~ August 17, 2006 Seoul Korea) was a Presbyterian minister, educator, and civil society activist. He dedicated himself to the left-right wing cooperation movement starting in 1945 while carrying out his role in the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea. Together with Cardinal Stephen Soohwan Kim, former President Boseon Yoon, and Seokheon Ham, a notable figure in the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker), Pastor Kang took the lead in the democratic movement againstthe ‘October Yushin’ or ‘Revitalizing Reform’ system which the Chunghee Park government introduced to legitimize the authoritarian development at the expense of human rights. He also established the Korean Christian Academy and Korean Peace Forum. His pen name is Yeohae.
Pilgrim to world theology and minjung theology for poor, oppressed people
Nam-dong Seo was born to a Christian family in Amtaemyeon, Sinangun, Jeollanamdo. His parents were converted by preachers from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. who were performing missionary activities in Mokposi, Jeollanamdo. Influenced by his parents, the young Nam-dong Seo became a Christian. He attended Christian schools such as Mokpo Yeongheung Middle School and Jeonju Sinheung High School, and in 1936 he entered Doshisha School of Theology in Japan. During two years of preparatory courses for the Japanese language and four years of the regular courses, the divinity student Nam-dong Seo started to gain interest in the minjung (poor, oppressed people) after witnessing the miserable lives of Koreans in Japan. He became a professor of theology after receiving an offer for the position by the Theology University of Korea (currently Hanshin University) in 1953. He completed his master’s degree at Emmanuel College of the University of Toronto, with assistance from the United Church of Canada, one of the liberal Presbyterian Churches in Canada. Soon after returning to South Korea, he played a role as the ‘antenna of world theology’, conveying theology from around the world to the Korean churches while serving as a professor at the College of Theology of Yonsei University. He also strongly resisted the dictatorship of the Chunghee Park military regime, standing on the side of the minjung, the principal agents of history. Consequently, he had the experience of being fired from his post, which resulted from oppression by the military government. He passed away at the Severance Hospital in 1984 to which he was admitted after his return from an overseas lecture tour.